“You have so much potential!” I have to admit that I have a love-hate relationship with this phrase. I love it because whenever someone says it to me, I usually take it to literally mean that they see and believe so much in me and my ability to do big and great things. I hate it on the other hand because I sometimes wonder if it’s a backhanded compliment from the person saying it to me and if they are sitting in judgment of me and trying to measure me up against what they believe I should be doing based on their expectations of me.
I once had a well-meaning friend tell me that if I wasn’t very successful and living the good life five years down the road then it would most likely mean that there was something wrong with me, ouch! That’s just how much potential he saw in me. Are you tired of people telling you have so much potential and even believing so yourself but not seeing it translate into tangible results in your life?
We all grow up believing we were meant to do big and great things with our lives. Ask most children what they want to become when they grow up and you will get a plethora of answers, “a doctor”, “an astronaut”, “a scientist”, “a firefighter”, “and the next president” and so on. These babes are convinced they can do the impossible and spend a majority of their childhood role playing and making believe of these occupations. We once were these ambitious babes ourselves.
As we grow up and life sets in, we sometimes stop dreaming after having someone tell us that we don’t have what it takes to turn our dreams into reality or allowing society dictate what we can and can’t do based on our age, race, educational background, status quo and so on. It isn’t long before we accept these limiting beliefs ourselves and start coming up with our own reasons and excuses why we can’t do this or that or sabotage our own efforts in chasing after our childhood dreams.
Some of the reasons we don’t live up to our potential include:
- Contentment – People who are content and comfortable with and in their circumstances and lives don’t feel the need to strive or push for more. Accomplishing certain things sometimes fools them into believing that they have arrived i.e. The American Dream of owning a home with a white picket fence, 2.5 kids, an SUV and dog at times creates the illusion of having it all and not needing to seek out more since it’s considered the ultimate dream come true by many, what more could they want?
- Past failures and setbacks – Although the past doesn’t always predict the future, most people allow their past failures and setbacks to dictate their present actions, demoralize them, kill their confidence and keep them stagnant in life. Their fear of failure becomes greater than their desire to seek out bigger and better things for themselves.
- Self-doubt/Lack of Confidence – Confidence is essential in helping us dream big and living up to our potential. Self-doubt arises when we don’t believe we have it in ourselves to do certain things or compare ourselves with others instead of embracing our own talents, skills and abilities and using them to create the lives we desire.
- Not pursuing one’s passion – Most of us operate on auto-pilot, do our jobs to get by and have never really taken the time to find out what our purpose is. Doing things you aren’t passionate about or enjoy doing will never allow you to move to the next level in your life because you aren’t naturally committed to, dedicated in and excited about them enough to make something bigger of them.
Now that I think about it, I guess it really isn’t such a bad thing when someone tells you that you have so much potential. This phrase when deeply considered can allow you to accurately assess your life and determine if you are indeed making the most of your abilities and skills, if there is more you should be doing and can do with your life and if you have been limiting yourself in certain areas where you have the ability to excel or do better.
We all have it within us to do big and great things and should ask ourselves if we are really maximizing our potential, living up to our own potential or selling ourselves short.